For competition and handicapping purposes, sometimes, there will be a necessary adjustable gross score. This is where things can get a little bit confusing.
In a competition, a player’s handicap will be calculated for that particular course. An adjustable gross score is relevant in unfinished holes, conceded strokes, unplayed holes, or equitable stroke control.
The most common reason for an adjustable gross score is equitable stroke control. That means that the adjustable gross score will more accurately reflect the skill level and consistency of a particular golfer.
If there are outlier holes where the player takes far more strokes then they usually would, their course handicap will help determine the maximum number of strokes a player can take on a given hole.
For example, a player with a handicap below 9 for 18 holes can only be marked down for a double bogey on any hole. Since that golfer, in many cases, would very rarely incur more strokes than a double bogey, their gross score is adjusted to account for their general consistency of play.
This keeps their handicap consistent as well. (Having a higher handicap can be beneficial for more skilled players in competition)